One of the questions we’re often asked is in which industry segment do we have the largest customer base for RFID? The answer is obvious, but the reasons why vary. Manufacturing represents our largest customer base for RFID. It also represents the industry in which there still is the most opportunity for growth. There are so many potential applications for RFID in manufacturing, from asset tracking to work-in-process, the possibilities are seemingly endless.
Potential applications aren't the only thing that are seemingly endless when looking at RFID in manufacturing. There are many benefits to incorporating this powerful technology into your operations as well. Here are our top reasons for using RFID in manufacturing.
Improve Accuracy And Reliability In Your Supply Chain
A big problem facing supply chain managers today is the potential for errors. These errors could lead to missed shipments, running out of inventory, product losses or deliveries ending up at the wrong locations. Manual processes are a common issue as many systems still operate using handwritten information, which often can lead to errors. Even barcode scanning requires some level of manual interaction, but with RFID tracking can be automated and updates can be real-time.
The ability to track product information at all stages of the supply chain increases accuracy, efficiency and accountability. Using RFID brings transparency to your supply chain. Knowing what shipments are correct, incorrect or when something’s missing is critical to ensuring efficient operations.
Improve Production Line Efficiency
Does a specific part get paint where another part doesn’t? Where does a specific part go next in the production process? A quick read of the tag – even under a coat of paint – allows you to streamline and segment your production processes, freeing up valuable resources to use in other areas.
Track Equipment Maintenance
In addition, the ability to quickly read and have important data about critical production equipment readily available for use in the scheduling process is another way to improve production line efficiency. Use this data to schedule routine maintenance during off-peak times and keep equipment available and running during busy periods ensuring parts get out the door on time for your customers.
Increase Accuracy Of Inventory Management
Using RFID in your inventory management process is a more efficient way to help you stay on top of what you currently have in stock and what needs to be replenished. Tagging raw materials or even the location of raw materials leads to a more accurate method of inventory control, which allows for more efficient production planning and provides real-time visibility into inventory levels so you easily can monitor and prevent shrinkage.
Performing a manual inventory comes with expensive labor costs and incorporating RFID into your inventory management process is a way to help reduce those expenses.
In addition, using RFID technology in inventory management allows for better forecasting of raw materials, which also may lead to better pricing from suppliers if you are able to take advantage of larger volume discounts or quantity price breaks – not to mention eliminating additional shipping costs or even rush charges if you need to expedite an order because of inaccurate inventory.
Maximize Asset Utilization
Where should we start with this benefit? Depending on what assets you are referring to, i.e. production equipment, this benefit mirrors our second benefit – Improving Production Line Efficiency. However, that’s one of the great things about manufacturing environments – lots of different applications and lots of assets.
Let’s use returnable containers as an example. A lot of manufacturing companies have pallets, racks, bins, etc. they send out with either materials to other locations or finished products to distributors or customers. Many of these containers are specialized and therefore, expensive to replace.
Incorporating an RFID system into your container management program makes this process easy and helps ensure the pallets, racks, bins, etc., you send out are returned. Plus, you don’t waste money replacing assets that have gone missing simply because you don’t have a way to track them. In addition, you can track information about the container itself or even the contents within the container. With RFID, the possibilities are endless!
Improve Overall ROI
Perhaps you have considered RFID for your manufacturing application in the past but were not able to justify the investment. I encourage you to take another look. Because of the increased rate of adoption as well as the growing number of potential applications available to manufacturers, the barriers to entry have never been lower. Infrastructure that may have been too costly in the past has become more commonplace and, therefore, more affordable. In addition, the ability to utilize the infrastructure for multiple RFID applications reduces costs and increases ROI even more.
There are also now more RFID tag options for those difficult-to-tag items as well as more RFID customization possibilities to optimize your application and maximize your investment expanding your potential applications even more. Metal, liquids and even environmental conditions once thought to be obstacles to RFID in manufacturing are no longer hindrances.
In summary, incorporating RFID into your manufacturing operations will lead to increased efficiencies which ultimately leads to saving time and money. With increased visibility into your operations data, you’ll be able to make quicker and better business decisions for yourself as well as your customers.